By: Outreach and New Media Intern; Billy McDonald aka @BillyJMcDonald
A lot of amazing things happen at Dragon Homecoming. One of the greatest parts of Homecoming is the interaction between current students and Alumni. This Homecoming I got to meet a very special MSUM Alum who I’d seen a long time ago during my childhood. I met retired professional wrestler Nikita Koloff. I never thought he and I would have so much in common.
Nikita Koloff is easily one of the greatest MSUM alums of all time. Koloff was a professional wrestler for the better part of two decades in the once great World Championship Wrestling (WCW), but before he was “The Russian Nightmare” he was a 275 lbs., 6 ft. 2 in. football player for the Minnesota State University Moorhead Dragons back in the late 1970s.
Now I don’t know about you, but I was a huge professional wrestling fan as a child. There were two major providers of professional wrestling back in my day, WCW and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). I would watch hours of them each week. I remember standing on a chair in the bathroom just to draw a mustache on my face before my Dad got home from work so I could watch wrestling like a man. I always thought that my Dad was a secret professional wrestler. After all, he did have the mustache and mullet while he walked around in the house in his underwear.
Koloff was born on March 9, 1959 in Minneapolis, Minn. He grew up not knowing his father and desired nothing more than to be a professional football player. However, due to two major injuries, Koloff was unable to complete his football career with the Dragons.
After college, Koloff kept his mind set on football where he intended on trying out for USFL. In a moment that would write the amazing tale of Nikita Koloff, “Road Warrior Animal” called him in a request that Koloff might become a professional wrestler.
From there he found his way into the WCW. He was brought into the National Wrestling Alliance by his “Uncle” Ivan to prove Soviet superiority. Their ultimate goal was to dethrone NWA World champion Ric Flair.
Now my first encounter with Koloff was when I was five years old. I was sitting in my living room doing my usual body slamming of one of my sisters as I had seen on TV. It then when Koloff came on my TV, but this time as a character know as “Babyface”.
Babyface came to save Sting from an attack by the Dangerous Alliance. I hated him. Why? Because Sting was a bad guy in my world, so this Babyface guy was basically destroying my life. I began to scream at the TV, and my mother sent me to my room. However that was at the end of Koloff’s great career.
My Father was a big professional wrestling fan when he was a kid. So after Koloff left the press box I gave my father a call. I asked him, “Do you remember a Nikita Koloff?” It was as if he was 16 years old again (For the record I was “too cool” for wrestling when I was 16, but to each their own).
My Father could have told me Koloff’s favorite type of food to his sneaker size. He told me about this time Koloff squared off with my father’s favorite wrestler Rick Flair “The Nature Boy”. I did a little research and it appears that particular match was more than an un-faded memory to my father but also a landmark point in the young career of Koloff.
Koloff really got his launch when he went against NWA World Champion Ric Flair at The Great American Bash 1985 on July 6. Koloff lost to Flair and was even attacked by a fan during the match, but he established himself as a superstar in the wrestling business.
I think that everyone plus my grandma remembers Ric Flair “The Nature Boy”. I remember as a boy that I hated him with passion of a 1000 sun’s or as long as I could keep the TV volume down so that my mother would not see me up so late and send me to bed.
Koloff retired in 1993. He became a born again Christian, where he travels the world telling his story and ministry. He has written three books, “Breaking the Chains”, “Wrestling with God” and “Wrestling with Success”.
On July 15, 2006, Koloff received the Frank Gotch Award from the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame at the International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Newton, Iowa for contributing to the positive public image of wrestling.
So, be sure to make it to next years Dragon Homecoming…you never know who you might meet.